Finally, A Dedicated Program of Shorts on the Big Screen

By: Rianne Hill Soriano | YEHEY! Contributors
1 July 2008 | 9:12 AM

A selection of 7 short films by the Katorse Writers Group (batch 14 workshoppers of Ricky Lee’s f scriptwriting workshops) graces Robinson’s Galleria’s Indie Sine with “Katorse Shorts,” a selection of 7 short films in a dedicated program normally given to full-length films only. With themes ranging from the romantic to the absurd to the tragic, the program is meant to bring to the consciousness of Filipino audiences that the short film medium is also a cinematic art form that can hold its own.

Overall, the films show strength in concept, story, and treatment amidst the many given limitations for such indie shorts having to cope up with financial and time constraints, lack of technical resources, among others.

The “Katorse Shorts” line-up include:

“Ang Kapalaran ni Virgin Mario” (11 mins.)
By: Ogi Sugatan
Cast: Yul Servo, Forsyth Cordero
Gay lovers, Mario and Jose, experience the most joyful of mysteries.
6th SHORTMOVES International Film Festival, GERMANY
Jakarta Slingshortfest (2006)
International Short Film Festival Detmold “FilmLichter06”

The film is stylized with comic acts about a pregnant male. It puts allegories catering to the kind of audience who are into the more figurative offers. With a theatrical presentation in depths of black, its visual elements merely include the characters and the significant elements supporting the scenes’ requirements. Considering the many kinds of audiences, this short film absurdly renders fleeting emotions within its minimalist surroundings that some might find interesting, some might find wackily droll, and some might find weird.

“Ambulancia” (15 mins)
By: Richard Legaspi
Cast: Alan Paule, Nor Domingo
Ambulancia tells of a painful twist in an ambulance driver’s belief that a dying patient can be saved by running over stray animals on the streets.
In Competition, International Panorama of Film and Video, Patras City Greece 2008
In Competition, NOUSSA International Film Festival, Greece 2008
Winner, Quisumbing Escandor Film Festival, Best Short Narrative 2008
Winner, Grand Prize, Viva-PBO Digitales, Philippines 2008
Official Selection, Asian Film Academy Fellows Night Screening, S. Korea 2007
Official Selection, CineManila International Film Festival 2007

The film’s screenplay is its major strength. Overall, the performances give it justice. The dialogues coincide with the tight pacing. The cuts succeed in building tension to the scenes requiring such. Trying to drive with that careful balance of keeping the twist while letting the main character indulge with the right emotions, a little more depth to how the character delivers the goods for a more solid pain and empathy to his plight, and this film elevates itself further.

“Manyika” (15 mins.)
By: John Wong
Cast: Bor Ocampo, Sheenly Vee Gener
Manyika is a tale of talking teddies, an impatient miss, and a misunderstood lover.
Best Short Film, 2006 Cinemadali Short Film Competition

The film could have been as mushy and overbearing like its stuff toys; and yet, it turns out striking – mainly come climax time. Within its realistic treatment, there is a kind of mystery established in the characterization that makes the film work. The voiceovers could have been lessened a bit and things would just be fine. There are some dragging expositions that could probably be due to limitations in the production. Nevertheless, the film’s touching end creates such an emotional slice of life story.

“Puwang” (25 mins)
By: Anna Isabelle Matutina
Cast: Elmo Redrico, Roence Santos, Bon Reyes, Lorena Landicho
Puwang is a starkly real look into a family on the verge of falling apart in the face of impending death.
2007 Official Selection: Lyon Asian Film Festival, France
2006 Finalist: Cinemalaya Independent Film Festival
2006 Exhibition Film: Cinemanila International Film Festival

As a father-to-his children story and vice-versa, this melodrama about life and living life promotes simple shots while delivering lines with the right emotional baggage at work. Its minimalist production design and cinematography blend well with the story as it carefully stitches issues that has damaged family relationships.

“Dead Letter” (20 mins)
By: Grace Orbon
Cast: Gamaliel Nicolas, Edel del Llarte
A young man’s journey into the world of writing.
In Competition, 3rd Singapore Short Film Festival 2006

Poetic on its own, there is that consistent angst expressed through words uttered by the main character. However, the film still needs further direction in order to solidify its point and effectively bring the linear and abstract aspects of its storytelling requirements effectively into the medium.

“Lababo” (17 mins)
By: Seymour Barros Sanchez
Cast: Nerissa Icot, Virnie Tolentino, Stephen Patrick Moore
Lababo is the story of a young woman and a crazy woman who both fell in love with the same American soldier.
Grand Prize, Viva’s PBO Digitales Short Film Competition 2007
In competition, 48th Bilbao Film Festival in Spain 2006
In exhibition, Internal Affairs 1, Jakarta Slingshortfest 2006
In exhibition, 8th Cinemanila International Film Festival 2006
In competition, 8th International Panorama of Independent Film and Video in Greece

Consistent with its style, the film’s progressive tone is apparent the whole time. Its supposed lines are merely supported by the talking radio announcer serving what voiceovers would normally offer – while also working as good metaphors on how the Philippines tend to seek leftovers from America in various respects. The narrative could have benefited further by utilizing more of the thoughts and emotions of the woman character inside the house waiting for her man’s return. And such could have further enhanced the emotional plunge into the many issues the film presents.

“Walong Linggo” (18 mins)
By: Anna Isabelle Matutina
Cast: Jaymee Joaquin, Joey Santos
A young man who sits alone in a cafe every Sunday morning suddenly finds himself strangely falling in love with a girl he doesn’t know.

The film’s treatment seems to be paying homage to the silent era films where the visuals and music comprise the totality of the film’s technical and audio-visual aspects. It puts the unspoken information through texts like title cards in the opening or closing credits of films of today. And the musical score plays a significant role in establishing the mood for each theme and the emotional needs of its love story.


Review by Vingel Yago, June 19, 2008

KATORSE SHORTS is a project of The Katorse Writers’ Group, a group of young writer-filmmakers who were part of Ricky Lee’s 14th Scriptwriting Workshop (hence ‘Katorse’). I saw their ad on Philippine Star last Sunday and decided to go watch the series even if Robinson’s Galleria was so way out of my usual route. Thanks to BC for giving me a tip on how to get there from Manila (if you’re anywhere near the Metropolitan Theatre area, wait for a bus that goes to Taytay or Cainta).

I am a huge fan of short films. I always get DVDs of foreign shorts whenever I have the chance to come across some. Anyhoo, here’s the list of shorts featured. These came from their 4th-year anniversary DVD.

Ang Kapalaran ni Virgin Mario by Ogi Sugatan
Ambulancia by Richard Legaspi
Manyika by John Wong
Puwang by Anna Isabelle Matutina
Dead Letter by Grace Orbon
Lababo by Seymour Barros-Sanchez
Walong Linggo by Anna Isabelle Matutina

Truth be told, the only film I didn’t enjoy was Lababo. Paciencia, pero I really have no patience for anything that has a leftist bent. Each to his own.

Ang Kapalaran started the series on a humorous mood. This is a take on the Virgin Mary’s Immaculate Concepcion (hence Virgin Mario). The story opened with two men on a bed; lovers, obviously, named Jose and Mario. One of them (Mario; Yul Servo) woke up one day to find himself pregnant. What followed next was too hilarious to even write about. The attempt to abort the child took the most part of the film: Jose (Ricky Orellana?) tried making sungkit the fetus using a wire hanger from all the possible body orifices but to no avail, until a man suddenly appeared in the room telling them to stop and announcing that the second coming was at hand. A joyful mystery indeed.

Ambulancia stars Alan Paule and Nor Domingo. Alan is an ambulance driver and Nor is a medic. The story takes a dig on the belief of ambulance drivers that animals get themselves run over by ambulances to save the dying patient being ferried to hospitals except that on this particular day, Alan didn’t run over a dog but his own daughter (who eventually died to “save” the life of a tetanus patient, a friend of Nor). Coincidences can indeed be chilling.

The story could use a little tightening. Parang hindi alam ng writer kung kelan niya tatapusin ang pelicula. Short films should have the ability to leave the audience jarred, shocked or somewhere in between (think Pam Miras’ Blood Bank or Raz de la Torre’s Labada or Jeanne Lim-Pepe Diokno’s No Passport Needed; may ooomph ang ending, gets?). Lingering shots can kill the emotional buildup and ends the film on a flat note. Nasasayang ang effort.

Set in Luneta, Manyika has a promising premise: two young meet and become a couple. Every day, the girl receives a stuffed toy from the boyfriend until her room is filled with them. She becomes inis because the boy can’t seem to say that he loves her. Instead, he gives her more stuffed toys. One day, he decided to give her the largest stuffed toy ever and she throws it on the street out of sheer desperation. Boy retrieves it and gets run over. After the internment, girl comes home crying and accidentaly squeezes a toy and it says, “I love you”. Turns out, all the toys will say the same thing when squeezed and the largest of them gives her the boy’s final message: that he did plan to finally say it on the day he gives her this toy. Sigh. Ano ba ito?! So heartbreaking naman. I wish it could have been shot with a better camera though; plus all that ambient noise! Haay.

Puwang is too long to discuss here (they translated the word ‘puwang’ to “space between”; “Space” was enough na sana because the title didn’t mean it to be a literal physical space. Emotional space ito, eh), but I loved the tension brought about by the confluence of events – a dying father, a son who wouldn’t visit, a daughter giving birth, and another daughter who’s torn between giving up and taking care of the father. Kudos to the actors and to the writer. Shots were good, never mind that the father’s poop was (quite literally) in-your-face. Because of this hindi ko na tuloy matandaan ang ending (I swear!).

May ganda naman ang Dead Letter. Medyo nakakainis na nakakalungkot. I think it is pure poetry in motion. It really captured the situation of many struggling writers (the young writer’s script as pambalot ng tinapa was cliche-ish but still the best way to depict things given the circumstances). A little tightening, okay na siya. Definitely not for all audiences dahil sa heavy drama. Anyway, kudos to writer and director Grace Orbon! (Was this part of the Cinemalaya Shorts A last year? Because that was what I didn’t get to watch.)

Lababo. An advise to the UM Film Society: keep writing, keep watching, keep observing, keep making films.

I liked Walong Linggo because it’s a fine, smooth ending to the series akin to a mug of hot coffee and chocolate cookies after a long day. I guess the official synopsis describes it best: A young man who sits alone in a café every Sunday morning suddenly finds himself strangely falling in love with a girl he doesn’t know. As he tries to get to know her, he is hindered by insecurity and fear of rejection, thus prolonging the much-awaited introduction. Cute concept by writer-director Anne Matutina. Actors Joey Santos and Jaymee Joaquin were very, very good. Mababaw ba ako to like this story? Maybe the simplest can actually be the most likeable.

Jaymee stars in new short film ‘Walong Linggo’

Source: Journal Online

Games Uplate Live host Jaymee Joaquin pairs up with Joey Santos in Anna Isabelle Matutina’s latest short film, “Walong Linggo (Eight Sundays).”

Santos plays the loner who enjoys spending Sunday mornings at a small cafe until a young woman, played by Joaquin, starts disrupting his quiet solitude. With the nostalgia of silent movies, the film traces how one man finds himself falling in love with a woman he doesn’t know. Their Sunday meetings are punctuated with Tanaga verses by Benilda Santos, Grace Orbon, Jess Santiago, Risa Jopson, Jules Katanyag, Joanne Tan, Abet Umil and Bien Lumbera, while first-time musical scorer, Caloy Diaz, narrates the melodious yearnings of undeclared love.

Aside from her GUL hosting chores, Joaquin also currently stars as the friend of Roxanne Guinoo’s character Lea in ABS-CBN’s daily afternoon drama “Ligaw na Bulaklak.”

“Walong Linggo”  is Matutina’s 4th short film and her first attempt in the romance genre. It will have a week-long run at Robinsons Galleria Indie Sine from June 11 to 17 under the program Katorse Shorts.

Walong Linggo (Eight Sundays)

In Exhibition: Young Cinema Night
10th Cinemanila International Film Festival 2008
Special Program: The Best of Indie Sine Shorts
Cinemalaya Philippine Independent Film Festival 2008


Short Narrative / 2008 / Colour / 18 mins. / Philippines


A young man who sits alone in a café every Sunday morning suddenly finds himself strangely falling in love with a girl he doesn’t know. As he tries to get to know her, he is hindered by insecurity and fear of rejection, thus, prolonging the much-awaited introduction.

Cinematography: ALMA DELA PEÑA
Production Design: RICHARD LEGASPI

With poems by:


English translation by:

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